IMSA: Action Express Leads At Six-Hour Benchmark Of Rolex 24

Jacob Seelman Featured, IMSA, Road Racing, WeatherTech 0 Comments

Filipe Albuquerque led the 55th annual Rolex 24 at Daytona at the six-hour mark on Saturday night. (Mike Levitt/LAT for IMSA photo)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A timely shower allowed Filipe Albuquerque and the No. 5 Action Express Cadillac DPi to lead the 55th annual Rolex 24 at Daytona as the field crossed the six-hour benchmark on Saturday night, picking up the first available bonus points towards the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup.

Albuquerque took the point on lap 185, as Jordan Taylor brought the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi to the pits to change from slick to wet tires as conditions deteriorated around the 3.564-mile road course.

With 185 laps completed in the first quarter of the event, Action Express holds the top two positions, as the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi of former Indy car race winner Mike Conway rides second, with Taylor completing the current podium.

Only the top three are currently on the overall lead lap, with the No. 22 Extreme Speed Motorsports Nissan DPi of Bruno Senna running a lap down in fourth and the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Riley-Gibson of Marc Goossens in fifth.

A caution with 36 minutes to go in the sixth hour set up the race’s last restart of the first quarter, a 12 and a half minute sprint for the points that ultimately shuffled the deck and the running orders after rain began to fall during the slowdown.

In GT Le Mans, the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR of Patrick Pilet used their timely pit service during that yellow to steal the lead and the bonus points away from Chip Ganassi Racing and the Ford GT camp, claiming five markers as the field flashed across the stripe but sitting five laps adrift of the overall lead.

Up until the lap 180 restart, the pole-sitting No. 66 Ford GT of Dirk Mueller, Joey Hand and Sebastien Bourdais had led the entire race to-date in the GT Le Mans class, dominating the proceedings but finding themselves second on the track ahead of the No. 3 Corvette of Mike Rockenfeller.

Meanwhile, the defending GTLM class-winning No. 4 Corvette saw its hopes of another Rolex Cosmograph stutter to a halt going down the backstretch on lap 173, drawing the fifth full-course caution of the event with five hours and 24 minutes complete.

With Marcel Fassler at the wheel, co-drivers Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner could only watch helplessly as the stricken car was towed back to the garage, its chances at victoru likely over in the star-studded production class.

Prototype Challenge saw the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA FLM09 of James French, Pato O’Ward, Kyle Masson and Nicholas Boulle out in front through six hours, having commanded the proceedings to-date and leading the No. 20 BAR1 Motorsports entry by three laps.

And in GT Daytona, the No. 50 Riley Motorsports – WeatherTech Racing Mercedes/AMG GT3 of Shane van Gisbergen found itself at the head of the class, leading the No. 63 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 of Sam Bird and the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3.

That class saw its lone major incident to date during the second hour, when five-time overall Rolex 24 winner Scott Pruett slammed the inside barrier at the entrance to turn one of the road course, knocking the 3GT Racing No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 out of the event.

The only other major incident of the race through its first quarter came on lap 111, in the middle of the fourth hour when the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport PC entry and the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R in GTD crashed hard in the bus stop chicane, slamming the barriers and causing heavy damage to both cars.

That incident forced a 20-minute full-course caution period for cleanup before racing could resume.

View a breakdown of the overall and class leaders on the next page…

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